POLITICIAN AND iconic Irish peace campaigner John Hume has passed away aged 83.
Regarded by many as the principal architect behind the Good Friday Agreement, Hume passed away after several years spent battling dementia.
His death was confirmed by his family this morning.
“We are deeply saddened to announce that John passed away peacefully in the early hours of the morning after a short illness,” they said in statement.
“We would like to extend our deepest and heartfelt thanks to the care and nursing staff of Owen Mor nursing home in Derry.
“The care they have shown John in the last months of his life has been exceptional. As a family, we are unfailingly inspired by the professionalism, compassion, and love they have shown to John and all those under their care.
“We can never adequately show them our thanks for looking after John at a time when we could not. The family drew great comfort in being with John again in the last days of his life,” the statement continued.
“We would like also to extend our gratitude to the people of Derry and Moville/Greencastle, who have looked after John and shown us so much kindness as his dementia has progressed.
“Celebrating community in all its diversity went to the heart of John’s political ethos and we are very appreciative that our communities supported, respected and protected John.
“John was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a great grandfather and a brother. He was very much loved, and his loss will be deeply felt by all his extended family.”
Hume’s funeral will be arranged in line with government regulations on social distancing and with a strict limit on the number of attendees.
“We realise this will mean that many will be unable to join us and we will arrange a memorial service and a celebration of his life in due course,” the family said.
“Above all, we know that John would have prioritised public health, and the safety and health of our communities. We are grateful for your condolences and support, and we appreciate that you will respect the family’s right to privacy at this time of great loss.
“It seems particularly apt for these strange and fearful days to remember the phrase that gave hope to John and so many of us through dark times: we shall overcome.”
A Derry native who represented the city for 36 years, Hume was a leading advocate of non-violence during the Troubles.
The founder Social Democratic and Labour Party, Hume first became involved in the Northern Irish civil rights movement in the late 1960s before taking charge of the SDLP from 1979 to 2001.
Convinced nationalism was a declining force in Europe, Hume was a keen proponent of the establishment of a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.
A life-long campaigner for civil rights, he was a driving force behind the establishment of improved relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and between London and Dublin.
His efforts were crucial in bringing IRA leader Gerry Adams, and the British Government to the negotiation table in a crucial first step towards the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Hume was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in 1998.
The preeminent voice of nationalism in the north in the years before the agreement Hume retreated from public life in the mid 2000s and struggled with dementia later in life.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Pat, and their five children.